New Delhi: Be it the Caribbean trumpet with its lovely yellow blooms, the towering scented Eucalyptuses or even the prolific Neems and Jamuns, Delhi is currently staring at dwindling numbers of trees owning to serious space crunch.
Delhi has transformed from being the green capital to being a concrete jungle in less than a decade, according to activists and environmentalists who have pointed out that trees in the city have been chopped down for construction of roads, flyovers, the Metro, the Commonwealth Games, and for new constructions.
Those remaining have been imprisoned in concrete pavements, or their branches chopped off so brutally that they are now stark looking and stump like, they say.
"The forest department is working keenly to ensure security for the trees in the city, ensuring that all nails, boards, hooks, rods, advertisements etc pinned on the trees are removed," says AK Shukla, Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden at the Forest Department.
According to Shukla, the department is seriously concerned about the directive from National Green Tribunal, which had issued a notice to 14 authorities directing them to remove all boards, nails and advertisements from trees falling under their jurisdictions as well as directing the authorities to de-concretise trees.
Delhi`s green cover (which includes shrubs and trees outside forests) has doubled in a decade, from 151 sq km in 2001 to 296.2 sq km in 2011, according to the State of Forest Report 2011, by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests,
However, Shukla says, "Many trees in the NCR region were cut down for the development of Delhi which included the esteemed Delhi metro project, construction of flyovers etc.
"Pruning was another issue for the destruction of trees. Strangulation by metal tree guards also affected the growth of trees."
The Forest Department says that it has allowed felling of thousands of trees for the third phase of Delhi Metro`s expansion, work for which began in November 2011, with no place to carry out the 10:1 re-plantation as is legally required.
"A total of 10 trees have to be planted for each tree cut but detailed field surveys show that most of the Delhi roads have limited surface soil for the trees to grow," says Shukla
Padmavati Dwivedi, who helped conduct a tree census in Delhi points out the need for the city to have a long term green vision which is integrated with the rest of the things.
"The people of Delhi should take initiatives to protect trees. There are many people in the city who cement up the free area around their houses for car parking. This ends up putting the trees under great stress even choking them to death and also threatening ground water recharge," she says.
Padmavati led the census over the period of one year beginning April 2011 and carried out by about 20 volunteers including, residents, homemakers, children, environmentalists and teachers in South Delhi.
Delhi has also a tree authority which has been in operation in the city from the year 2007.
Both Shukla and Padmavati participated in a lecture on "Delhi`s Dying trees" conducted by the NGO Toxic Links, which also saw a screening of a film "Last Words of a Dying Tree" directed by Avinash Kumar Singh and Geetha Singh.